Review: Time Princess - Gourmet's Journey

The latest visual novel in Time Princess is an interesting concept. However, it has little new to offer compared to the other stories in the app. Gourmet's Journey is a cooking-related story that takes place in ancient China. This is the fourth Chinese story in the game, and all of them are about spirits befriending the protagonist. I realize must be a common element of Chinese mythology and storytelling, but after seeing it so many times in a game with such a large variety of other stories and cultures, it is beginning to feel trite. The cooking aspect adds something new with tantalizing descriptions of delicious delicacies and spices that I wouldn't recommend reading about if you're hungry. The clothing was pretty, but not too different from what we've seen in the other Chinese stories so far.

Gourmet's Journey visual novel in Time Princess

Players enter this book as Lai Wanzhou, a young chef who studied food preparation, cooking, and presentation under her father. One day, her father went to work at the palace and never returned home. Lai decides to enter a cooking competition that grants its winner an opportunity to work at the palace so she can look for him. After that, the plot twists and turns in so many different directions that it made me dizzy. Almost everyone turns out not to be who they say they are. It's a good mystery for people who enjoyed Have You Seen Claudia? There was one part that really surprised me in which the main character almost assassinates someone, which is not very fitting for a princess story. There are a few other mature themes that the game warns you about at the beginning, such as alcohol consumption, but it never gets too dark for a Time Princess novel.

Lai enters the chef competitionSiqing helps Lai in the competitionLiansheng pledges her devotion to Lai

There are two companions in this story, but it isn't really a romance. Siqing is a mysterious nobleman who helps Lai win the cooking competition. She spends much of the story trying to discover his true identity and how it might relate to her father's whereabouts. Liansheng is a spirit of a koi fish that Lai can choose whether not to cook at the beginning of the story. She does not reveal her identity right away, but I thought it was pretty easy to figure out since this game has released so many similar visual novels. Liansheng is a loyal and adorable friend to Lai, but she also has some secrets of her own that are not revealed until much later. It was difficult to feel attached to either of these companions because both were keeping the protagonist the dark about a number of things throughout the story.

Lai cooks intently to win the competitionSiqing presents an adorable cat that resembles himLiansheng does an exotic dance near a pond

The dresses in this visual novel were beautiful, although they were pretty similar to outfits from the other Chinese stories that Time Princess has released in the past. I did like many of the two-piece skirt and top combos, which were a refreshing change from the traditional robes. My favorite was a lavender and sky blue ensemble decorated with flowers and bunny rabbits that reminded me of a clear spring day. There was also a formal baby blue robe with flowing golden accents and an elaborate hairstyle to match. I think I prefer Liansheng's outfit over the ones the protagonist could wear because the layers of pink and blue pair so pretty with the pearl accents and flowers in her hair. It's a shame I couldn't craft a version of that dress.

Lai in a formal baby blue robe with flowing golden accents and an elaborate hairstyle to matchLai in a lavender and sky-blue ensemble decorated with flowers and bunny rabbitsLai in a green floral top and long skirt decorated with yellow flowers

Overall, Gourmet's journey is nicely done but not what I was hoping for from the next visual novel in Time Princess. There is a lot of information about food and ingredients for people who are passionate about cooking and a compelling mystery to solve. The clothes are pretty but nothing new, and the companions are intriguing. I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoyed Tang Dynasty Hunter, White Snake, or Ancient Dreams. Meanwhile I'm still waiting for them to finally release Catherine the Great!

Gourmet's Journey story map


Lucilla said…
Thanks for the review! I find Siqing really visually pleasing, so it saddens me that there isn't a romance here (T_T) though given his identity it kinda makes sense, sigh. I completely agree with your review. The outfits were nice but not like spectacular, like some of the ones from Tang Dynasty Hunter, but I did like the food theme and not needing goodwill to progress!
Anonymous said…
To those who know, Gurmet Journey is very obviously inspired by Chinese drama called The Imperial Doctress (2016), which was inspired by a Korean drama called Jewel in the Palace (2004).

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